National Security Council offers assistance to the United States

Following the horrific terrorist attacks on the United States on Tuesday, the Czech National Security Council held an emergency session on Wednesday morning to evaluate the security situation in the Czech Republic and to discuss what humanitarian aid the Czech government can provide to the American people. Nick Carey has this report.

The emergency session of the Czech National Security Council, which was attended by many members of the Czech Cabinet, President Vaclav Havel and the leaders of both houses of Parliament, was devoted primarily to the tragic events in the United States on Tuesday. At a press briefing afterwards, government spokesman Libor Roucek said the council had reaffirmed its support for the American people and the Czech government's willingness to help in any way:

"The National Security Council reaffirmed our solidarity with the people of the United States, and offered all the help we can provide. This means, for instance, that if the United States needs blood, we are ready to provide it. If the need other forms of assistance, we are ready to provide it."

So far, Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla told journalists, the main form of aid that the United States has requested is for blood and blood transfusion equipment. As all flights to the US have been cancelled, the Czech authorities are now in contact with the American embassy in Prague to find a way to get this aid to New York and Washington as soon as possible:

"We are of course in contact with the US embassy here in Prague. There are various ways we could do this. For instance, I could foresee would be to send it through the US bases in Germany. But as I said, we are in contact with the US embassy and if they need our help, if they need blood, we are ready to provide it."

On the international front, the Czech government, has begun working with its allies in NATO and the European Union to assess the military and economic implications of what is, says Czech government spokesman Libor Roucek, an unprecedented attack:

"It is an unprecedented attack. It has never ever happened before. Of course, not only the Czech Republic, but the United States, NATO and the European Union will now evaluate the security situation, not only concerning terrorists, but also, let's say, economic security. We are of course in contact with both NATO and the European Union in connection with these issues."

And although several units of the Czech armed forces were placed on full alert on Tuesday, the Czech National Security Council decided on Wednesday morning that the Czech Republic does not face the immediate threat of a similar attack:

"The National Security Council has come to the conclusion that as far as the Czech Republic is concerned, there is no security threat to the Czech Republic."